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Satellite solar panels in orbit to capture sun's rays 24/7 & wirelessly beam energy down to Earth

an artist's impression of the planned solar array which will be launched into space on a rocket and will transmit solar power back to Earth in radio waves

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Pacific Gas and Electric, which serves San Francisco and northern California, is to seek approval to buy 200 megawatts of energy from solar power firm Solaren. Within seven years, Solaren plans to send a satellite equipped with solar panels around 22,000 miles into space on board a conventional rocket.

Satellite solar cells would capture the sun’s rays 24 hours a day, without fear of cloudy mornings or dark nights. The orbiters then convert this solar power to radio-frequencies that transmit to ground stations in Fresno County, Calif. Once received, the radio energy would change into electricity and flow into the grid.

PG&E wants to put solar cells above the clouds, where they don't need to worry about anything blocking their view of the sun

Sunlight in space is at least ten times more powerful than that on Earth, making orbiting solar panels far more efficient than those which are land-based. Solaren believes the technology could provide enough clean electricity to power at least 150,000 Californian homes.

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Images courtesy of Mafic Studios and Newscom  read more »

On Mar 2, 1969 world's first supersonic jetliner Concorde took flight, feat of collaboration eng. & work of beauty

A cluster of Concordes gather nose-to-tail at London's Heathrow airport. Air France and British Airways ran a regular transatlantic service to New York with an average flight time of just 3 and a half hours.

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It was a feat of engineering and a work of exceptional beauty and grace. It won the hearts and minds of millions of people.

Forty years ago today the supersonic Concorde took its first test flight, and a design paragon flashed across the skies over Toulouse. With its droop nose and delta wing, the Concorde was a high point of 20th century engineering (its maiden flight came three months before the first moon landing) and the kind of cooperative effort that now seems beyond us. As we enter a period of infrastructure spending, it’s worth noting what kept the Concorde aloft for 27 years.

Capable of twice the speed of sound, Concorde remains an object of aesthetic streamlined beauty. The long nose and swept back wings were made for speed. It was a design so distinctive that it turned heads whenever it flew and it flew so high you could see the curvature of the earth from within the sleek interior.  read more »

NASA's spacecraft Kepler blasts off on a three-year mission in search of Earth-like planets

this artist rendition provided by NASA shows the Kepler space telescope. Kepler is designed to search for Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy

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NASA's Kepler spacecraft blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday on a three-year mission to find Earth's twin, a Goldilocks planet where it's neither too hot nor too cold, but just right for life to take hold.

The Delta II rocket, carrying the widest field telescope ever put in space, lifted off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral at 10:49 p.m. Eastern time. The launch vehicle headed down-range, gathering speed as its three stages ignited, one after the other, passing over Antigua Island in the Caribbean and later over tracking stations in Australia before climbing into orbit.

Kepler will detect alien worlds by measuring the minuscule dimming of a star's light that occurs when a planet passes in front of it

Kepler will eventually settle down to scan tens of thousands of stars near the constellations Cygnus and Lyra in search of planets where water could exist on the surface in liquid form, a key condition for life as we know it. "We have a feeling like we're about to set sail across an ocean to discover a new world," said project manager Jim Fanson of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "It's sort of the same feeling Columbus or Magellan must have had."  read more »

MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team unveils sleek 90-mph car, will compete in World Solar Challenge in Australia

MIT's latest solar race car

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MIT's Solar Electric Vehicle Team, the oldest such student team in the country, has just finished construction of its latest high-tech car and unveiled it to the public this Friday. "It drives beautifully," said George Hansel, a freshman physics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the team. "It's fun to drive and quite a spectacle." With six square meters of monocrystalline silicon solar cells and improved electronic systems and design, the car can run all day on a sunny day at a steady cruising speed of 55 mph. The car will be competing in October in the World Solar Challenge race across Australia, and in preparation for that the team plans to drive the car across the United States over the summer. About a dozen team members are expected to go to Australia for the race, although only four will drive the solar car in the competition.

MIT's Solar Electric Vehicle Team, the oldest such student team in the country, has just finished construction of its latest high-tech car  read more »

25 years of innovation: Apple's unveiling of the first Macintosh forever changed the future of personal computing

proud of his company's creations, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs shows off the original Macintosh as it was launched in January 1984

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The Macintosh - the first to bear the name - turns 25 on 24 January. The machine debuted in 1984 and kicked off a product line that were Apple's flagship computers for many years.

The Macintosh helped popularize the combination of graphical interface and mouse that is ubiquitous today. It had a revolutionary all-in-one design, and crucially, used a graphical user interface to navigate around, rather than text commands. This enabled the Apple Macintosh to cross the species barrier – everyday users could now use the computer, rather than just geeks au fait with scripting and coding. Indeed, the $2,495 price tag was perhaps the only barrier to entry.

while tiny netbooks get much of the attention today, Apple decided to go wider but thin with its MacBook Air, which can fit inside a manila envelope

The mouse input system and simple GUI enabled users to carry out a range of tasks that had been impossible on other computers. The Apple Macintosh came bundled with two software programs, MacWrite and MacPaint, signalling the birth of word processing and desktop publishing. With just 128KB of memory and a sloth-like 8MHz processor, the Apple Macintosh is woefully underpowered by today’s standards, but was cutting edge at the time.  read more »

From car to aircraft in 15 seconds: 'roadable' plane Terrafugia Transition is a flying car that fits in the garage

the Terrafugia Transition, from car to aircraft in 15 seconds

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The fantasy of spy novels and science fiction films is at last becoming reality with a vehicle that can turn from car to aircraft in 15 seconds

It is the ultimate off-roader and it is coming to an airstrip near you. The Terrafugia Transition is a two-seater plane that at the touch of a button converts into a road-legal car. It takes its maiden flight next month and is scheduled to hit the showrooms by next year. “It’s like a little Transformer,” says Carl Dietrich, the Terrafugia boss, proudly. “This is the first really integrated design where the wings fold up automatically and all the parts are in one vehicle. All we have is one simple folding wing, and that means the Transition takes just 15 seconds to switch between flying and driving.”

the Terrafugia Transition is ‘roadable’ when the wings fold against the body, accordion style

The Terrafugia Transition is a light sport airplane with four wheels and foldable wings that span 27.5ft when extended. It can soar up through the skies just like a regular aircraft then land on the ground, fold up its two wings and drive down the road at highway speeds. Measuring 19 feet long, it has an airborne range of 460 miles and can cruise at 115mph. According to early reports, the plane uses unleaded gasoline - no rocket fuels necessary. It runs via the 100 horsepower four-stroke Rotax 912S engine.  read more »

Jan 6, 1838, Samuel Morse 1st demonstrated electric telegraph. "What hath God wrought!" - 1st formal message sent

Samuel F. B. Morse, 1791-1872, American inventor and artist, b. Charlestown, Mass., grad. Yale, 1810

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Samuel F.B. Morse
It was on this day, January 6, in the year 1838 that Samuel Morse first demonstrated the electric telegraph. The telegraph was perhaps the single largest step forward in telecommunication history, in that it allowed messages to be sent electronically for the first time. The telegraph was key in settling the west, and served as the basis for modern communication methods.

"Science and art are not opposed" - Samuel Morse.

Samuel F.B. Morse led a superbly rendered life as a painter, sculptor, professor and photographer. He became best known, however, for his invention of the telegraph. Morse used the invention of the electromagnet in 1825 to develop a way to communicate virtually instantly over long distances using his own code.

Early days

Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born on April 27, 1791, in Charlestown, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He was the son of Jedidiah Morse, a pastor well known for his knowledge of geography. Samuel showed an interest in electricity, but his love was art. His father opposed art as a career - not realizing how determined Samuel was to paint.

Morse demonstrated to Congress the practicability of his instrument by transmitting the famous message ‘What hath God wrought’ over a wire from Washington to Baltimore  read more »

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